Fri, 01 Jul 2022 03:04 PM IST
Contrary to what reports had claimed, Eknath Shinde on Thursday was named the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The announcement was made by former Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, who many thought would get the top post in the state.
Initially, Fadnavis announced that he won't be a part of the new government. However, he made a U-turn and was sworn in as Shinde's deputy after the BJP top brass requested him to join the new Maharashtra cabinet.
But Shinde's appointment as Maharashtra Chief Minister has left everyone confused and people wonder why the BJP ignored Fadnavis, who held the top post from 2014-19.
With this move, the BJP, which was once a junior ally of Shiv Sena, hopes to isolate the Thackarey family in their own party. Political experts believe that the BJP will ultimately replace the Sena's top brass with rebel leaders that can lead to a division of the party into two factions.
The Sena, since its formation, have been controlled by the Thackerays and their word was final.
"Using Shiv Sena slogans, its people and by appointing a Maratha CM, the BJP is posing the toughest challenge to the Thackeray brand in the history of Maharashtra. There is an attempt to separate Thackerays from Shiv Sena, but it wouldn't be easy as Sena and Thackeray were always the same in the imagination of Marathi people," Maharashtra-based political scientist Sanjay Patil was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
"As Sena's ideology was broadly based on two planks: religion (Hindutva) and region (Marathi Manoos), now the attempt is that everything gets submerged into the larger plank of Hindutva and should be bigger than nativism," he added.
AN EYE ON 2024 LOK SABHA ELECTIONS
Besides, the party has also set its eye firmly on the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and aims to woo the Marathas, the state's dominant caste which is considered to be more sympathetic to Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Shiv Sena.
The saffron party also aims to beat the Sena in its own game and decimate it by depriving it of its pet Hindutva and ethnic sub-nationalism plank.
CAN THE MOVE BACKFIRE AT BJP?
However, political pundits believe that the move can also backfire at the BJP. According to a report by PTI, Fadnavis, the BJP's face in Maharashtra, was apparently not happy with the party's decision to name Shinde as the Chief Minister and had decided to stay out of the new government.
He only made a U-turn to become Shinde's deputy after the BJP high command, including party national president JP Nadda, requested the 51-year-old to be a part of the Maharashtra government.
Political experts say the benefits of the leaders of rebel factions or the smaller party running the government with the support of a big party have been mixed.
It should be noted that the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) had formed the government in Karnataka and appointed HD Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister after the 2018 assembly elections. However, their government didn't last long and several JD-S MLAs switched to the BJP, bringing an end to the Congress-JD(S) coalition.